So that’s Paul George of the Indiana Pacers going through-the-legs-360. Which is nice, for all of us, really.
I’d also like to point out LeBron who was also on this trip to Shanghai going nuts for George. This is today’s reminder that all of those rivalries you think are significant and meaningful are really the equivalent of guys wearing mustaches during your local community play to indicate that they are villains.
In a related story: Wow.
Video: Jordan Brand commercial creates the rivalry the NBA is missing
With all the superstar teamups, individual rivalries are getting lost. Kevin Garnett and Kobe Bryant never really were rivals, for some reason. LeBron James joined Dwyane Wade. Carmelo Anthony has his guys and is too buddy-buddy with LeBron or it to be a rivalry. There’s just not a lot of umph to the rivalries in the league as of right now.
But Jordan Brand has created a pretty cool one, in commercial fiction, at least:
So that’s pretty awesome.
It’s also, and not to get too up-here, up here, but it’s a great showcase of the globalism that basketball is undergoing. Jordan Brand could never have showcased that kind of concept a decade ago, but now there’s a kind of coolness about the idea of two people, separated by the planet, being sent down a path towards one another as a result of the greatness of the sport transcending borders and distance.
You want the best example the game has become global? It’s being marketed as such to sell shoes.
Passing has really come back into style. We may have seen more creativity in dimes this year than in any year since maybe Magic’s Showtime Lakers. From Ricky Rubio to the wizardry of the Nuggets’ team to Lob City, passes are uniquely in style.
And hey, there’s a video that shows some of the season’s best assists. This one isn’t comprehensive, no video will be. But some of these are just jaw-dropping.
Behind-the-back was definitely the theme of the year, whereas in previous years the between-the-legs has been used. We were even robbed of a half-season’s worth when Ricky Rubio went down with his injury. But it’s nice to see that in a sport that gets tagged as such an ISO-heavy, streetball-style, that there’s proof of the beauty in ball movement still being alive and well in the NBA.
43 points. Seven rebounds. Five assists. Russell Westbrook was pure and complete brilliance for 46 minutes.
And then he made the biggest mistake of his career.
Westbrook played the best game of his professional career, in a game where the Thunder needed each and every point, rebound, assist and play to hang with Miami after the Heat survived the Thunder’s hot start. Westbrook was fearless, relentless, and deliberate. He got to the rim, he got the mid-range jumper going, he helped his team respond to every huge shot from Miami.
And then, right when it was right there for him to change the story, quiet the critics, this happened:
In no way should this loss be put on Westbrook’s shoulders. They would have been buried beneath the Heat’s offense without Westbrook. It was a mistake, one of several the Thunder made, but just one. James Harden’s inability to convert anything resembling a major play was worse. Derek Fisher’s layup attempt that was blocked, leading to a Lebron James conversion at the other end was worse. Serge Ibaka’s rotation defense was worse. They were there, with a chance to win, because of Westbrook. It drifted past because of Westbrook, and because Scott Brooks was unable to prepare the team to be ready for how the clock functions in that scenario.
That’s how things break in a Finals this close.
Call out the defense, call out the coaching, praise the Heat.
But don’t bring this on Westbrook’s shoulders. They carried too much in Game 4.
Video: James Harden and Manu Ginobili are similar, awesome
This video, uploaded to YouTube by “antisocial215,” uses clips of Spurs and Thunder swingmen Manu Ginobili and James Harden to show just how similar their beautiful games are — both are left-handed, deceptively athletic, good shooters and ball-handlers, and both use their superior basketball IQ and on-court grace to do some absolutely gorgeous things on the basketball court. Bask in the glory of this video, and get even more excited for the Western Conference Finals.